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Can we expect stricter Covid-19 regulations after NCCC meeting?

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

President Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: Jairus Mmutle/GCIS

Published Jan 7, 2021


Cape Town - South Africans are bracing themselves for possible stricter Covid-19 regulations, as cases and deaths continue to spike as the second wave peaks in the country.

The National Coronavirus Command Council was on Wednesday locked in meetings to assess developments in South Africa’s national response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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“Should any announcements be required on the outcomes of today’s meeting or any other meetings, such announcements will be made on official accounts of the Government Communication and Information System (GCIS) and The Presidency,” the Presidency said in a brief statement on social media.

As of Wednesday, the country recorded 1 149 591 Covid-19 cases, with 21 832 new cases in the previous 24 hours. The national health department reported 31 368 deaths, with 844 reported in the previous 24 hours.

A total of 6 898 207 tests have been conducted.

This as Netcare on Wednesday said it was readying itself for a surge in Covid-19 infections in Gauteng.

The hospital group said they were doing everything humanly possible to bolster resources in order to continue providing the best and safest care.

Netcare’s Dr Richard Friedland said Netcare hospitals in the Western Cape have started to reflect a plateau in the number of patient admissions.

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By Wednesday, the Western Cape recorded 224 262 cases, and 37 984 active Covid-19 infections.

The province recorded an additional 154 deaths, bringing the total number of Covid-19 related deaths in the province to 7683.

Friedland added that a heartening decrease in hospitalisations in the Eastern Cape has been recorded for the fourth week running. It is expected that through the month of January the region will recover to the levels of Covid-19 last seen before the second wave.

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Friedland said facilities throughout KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) also continue to experience an unprecedented demand in bed capacity and that this is expected to continue throughout January.

“In Gauteng we are, as expected, already experiencing an alarming rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients across all our facilities and this is expected to rapidly worsen over the next two weeks,” he said.

“Limpopo is currently experiencing an unprecedented demand in hospitalisation with Netcare’s facility in Polokwane, Netcare Pholoso Hospital, more than 100% occupied. We have commissioned a temporary clinical decision unit that can accommodate up to 80 patients. An additional 60 staff members have been deployed to assist at the hospital,” he added.

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Premier Alan Winde on Wednesday visited the Mitchells Plain Hospital of Hope, where 200 intermediate care beds were being made available for Covid-19 patients.

“The first 100 of these beds have been activated, and I was also able to see progress on the next ward which is due to open next week. A fourth ward will be completed the week after that.

“I also had an opportunity to address some of the healthcare workers there and thank them for the incredible work they are doing,” Winde said.

The facility was set up in just nine days, he said, and each bed fitted with an oxygen point, with oxygen storage tanks on site.

In addition to doctors and nurses, the wards will also have social workers, physiotherapists and dieticians to care for patients' physical and psychological well being.

The facility has already admitted over 60 patients since becoming operational on January 1.

Meanwhile, Health Minister Dr Zweli Mkhize is expected to face a grilling from opposition parties when he briefs the Portfolio Committee on Health on the status of healthcare services in the provinces in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic.

The minister will also brief the committee on the latest developments, including the rollout strategy of the Covid-19 Vaccine.

It will come a day after National Assembly Speaker Thandi Modise declined DA chief whip Natasha Mazzone’s request for an urgent special sitting of the House to establish an ad hoc committee to oversee the roll out of the country’s vaccination programme.

“The Speaker has noted that Ms Mazzone's correspondence does not provide reasons why an ad hoc committee, and not the portfolio committee on health, is a suitable mechanism to deal with this matter.

“The Speaker has stressed that a vaccine rollout plan was a matter of urgent concern to the nation, and Parliament must exercise its constitutionally mandated role in this regard ... The Portfolio Committee on Health, which has been pursuing a parliamentary oversight programme over government's health-related intervention on the Covid-19 pandemic, must immediately deal with this matter.” said Parliament spokesperson Moloto Mothapo.

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